Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Triangle Offense

Good story in the Indianapolis paper this morning about the Lakers' Triangle offense.

"The offense, orchestrated by [Phil] Jackson and longtime assistant coach Tex Winter, is not an illusion. When executed properly, three players form a triangle on the strong side of the court. Jackson's triangle... is unpredictable because it is based on constant movement and then reading the defense... The Lakers run it between 70 and 75 percent of the time when they're not fastbreaking."

As described in the article, "the beauty is that any player can be at any point of any triangle. Players, roles and positions on the court are interchangeable. The point guard doesn't have to initiate the play or penetration. Jackson's goal is to space the court (he prefers players 18 to 20 feet apart) to maximize individual matchups. When the defense adjusts, that creates other openings."

According to Pacers coach Jim O'Brien, whose team plays the Lakers tonight:

"It's just different triangles that in a natural setup has a wing, corner, post triangle. It's kind of an overload situation. It's a perfectly spaced offense where you cannot get your normal weak-side defense loaded up on guarding or helping. When I think of triangle offense, they always have people perfectly spaced. To me, it seems that with that spacing you can always draw some triangles if you stop anybody at the same time."

According to one Pacers player, defending the Triangle is difficult because "it really keeps you honest. It doesn't allow you to gamble because they have a lot of backdoor options. That makes you stay honest in the passing lane, which means you can't really disrupt their offense a whole lot."

To run the Triangle, "it takes players who have multidimensional games. They have to be good passers, shooters, drivers and be able to move well without the ball. The Lakers currently have that with Bryant, Gasol and Lamar Odom."

Says Coach O'Brien:

"Phil and Tex have been running that offense no matter who they've had. Whether it was Shaq and Kobe or Jordan and Pippen, they just run it. It's a good offense no matter who is on the court for you. When they go to the bench, the Lakers are very efficient offensively when you have Kobe or Gasol in the game. They don't seem to miss many strides from their execution of their triangle offense. It's a great offense from spacing and from movement standpoint."